Dreams See into our Far Past

“I am walking along a cobbled road going slightly down–hill. I know as I dream that I am in Italy. I do not feel a stranger in this land, and am learning the language.” Ron.

Ron describes his exploration and insights into the dream by saying:

This was a very short dream and I didn’t think it had any real significance, but I was regularly exploring my dreams, and it interested me because I couldn’t understand what it referred to in showing me learning the language. I had never learned Italian and was not doing so.

When I relaxed and allowed the free flow of my associations and feelings, the first part of the dream was easy. My father was born in England of two Italian parents. So being in Italy, a country I had never visited myself, I could immediately feel and understand as referring to my family on my father’s side and the influences that have been left in the way I think and live.

But I felt myself falling deeper into the dream. It was something I had learned to do. I not only kept the question ticking over quietly of what does the dream indicate, but at the same time I relaxed control of my thoughts, my body and emotions. This is like being half asleep in a state where the body can twitch spontaneously, and perhaps I can even hear myself making slight vocal sounds, and yet I am wide–awake watching what arises. Because of this state a flow of memories began to arise about my father, and I realised something I had only been partially aware of before.

My father had taken over the family shop when his father had died. The shop was in London, just over a mile away from the old Covent Garden fruit and vegetable market. Most days my father walked, pushing a barrow, and in later years drove to the market to buy produce for the shop. I often went with him, helping carry and load, and perhaps push the barrow. In my youth I wasn’t aware of it, but now in my flowing memories I realised that my father was very distant or cautious in his dealings with the market salesmen and porters. A distinct and overall realisation arose out of the many memories and impressions; it was that my father was expressing a particular type of caution in all his dealings with other people. I saw this as keeping who he was secret – keeping his head down.

As I saw this in my father it hit me with great power that this attitude had passed to me, and although I expressed it in a different way, I had inherited it with equal strength. Why? And, how?

The perception that was taking place was not like my normal thinking. It comprehensively gathered memories and put them together in a way that made patterns and themes stand out. So as the process of insight was taking place I saw just how the urge to keep my head down, not stand out in the crowd, not get involved with people, had influenced my actions. For a start I had never voted in my life. This was because I could never identify with groups pushing for power. I had avoided everyday social activity, although relationships with individuals were not threatening.

Now I started seeing how this attitude had passed to me so strongly. My thought, as I witnessed the flow of memories, was that perhaps such information was genetic, because my father had never talked to me much at all. He had certainly never urged me to keep out of the limelight – to keep my head down, and until now I hadn’t been aware that he had been doing it himself, so it wasn’t simply conscious emulation. I can only say that I ‘saw’ how it had happened. What I mean is that through the still flowing memory and feelings it was as if I could actually look into the heart of things and see how they worked. The insight I achieved was that we as humans, like other mammals, in our earliest years particularly, still learn like most mammals do, and that is not verbal at all. A massive amount of information is absorbed from our parents without any effort or awareness.

What Ron realised is that just as a fox cub ‘learns’ how to hunt from its parents, so we absorb the deeply etched survival strategies of our parents simply by being around them. If genes come into it anywhere, they perhaps create the reflex response that instinctively draws in the survival tactics that perhaps even our parents themselves have never really been aware they live by. In doing this the higher animals learn what cannot be passed on as instinct, what is not ‘hard wired’ into them. This holds in it a tremendous advantage because ‘hard wiring’ takes a long time. Through this faster method we learn what to be afraid of, what to eat, how to hunt, because the lessons learned by pain through many generations are exhibited in our parents behaviour in dealing with events. The experiments with apes in Japan, where Imo the macaque ape learned the ability to wash sweet potatoes to remove sand grains, show how this was passed on from this one female to the whole group, and then to subsequent young macaques, and illustrates how survival information is passed on non verbally for generations. An important aspect of this is that whatever of such information is held in the present generation, it is an accumulation of skills and responses learned over many generations, and is the fundamental survival strategies of that particular family or group line. (5)

Ron goes on to say:

The degree of this was staggering to me. It led me to wonder just where my father had got the information from, and although this was obvious from my own perception of where I had received the messages from, the resulting experience profoundly moved and impressed me. It taught me things about myself I don’t think I could have learned in any other way. A floodgate of impressions rushed into my awareness at such a pace I can only record the main ones.

Suddenly my mind let the power of the messages my father had carried and passed to me speak, as if they were alive. I experienced what appeared to be a direct connection with my far ancestors. This may sound strange, but my father had, as it were, handed me a recording. He and I had been impressed with the cover and it had led us to live in a particular way. But now I had put the recording on the player and the ancient originators expressed their own message.

Obviously this is only an analogy to convey the experience, but in some way the message played out in me from centuries back. From it I learned that my forebears had lived in Italy during a period of great religious and political tension. The pressures to conform had been enormous. Not only were my ancestors told to believe in a particular sort of God, but also to accept leadership from people they had no respect for. If they did not live this belief and submit to it they were killed or rejected by the community they had been born into. In their own words I heard them saying to me something like ‘The worst was they did not kill us, but they cut our vine at the roots. They burnt our land and they killed our children. If you want your sons to live, teach them not to hold their head up, but to keep their eyes on the ground.’

And out of that trauma the message had been passed to me many generations later. It was survival. I was still living it, but perhaps it was time to reappraise. (Quoted from Eye of Dreams – Tony Crisp)

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved